Friday, 19 January 2018

franking privilege

A leading pro-BREXIT campaigner chided Royal Mail for issuing a set of commemorative stamps celebrating the career of Pink Floyd, as Kottke informs, whilst refusing to do the same to mark the occasion of the UK’s departure from the European Union. The internet quickly obliged to fulfil that glaring philatelic niche.

Fed up with exponentially increasing prices for staple medication due to the popularity of the rentier business model and supply-chain disruptions that lead to shortages—exacerbating the pricing regime even more—a group of US hospitals and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs have banded together to fight Big Pharma by having their own dispensaries and making their own generic drugs. We applaud them for standing up to heartless greed and doing something to redress the broken healthcare system besides just offering more concessions to drug companies and make the bill the scariest part of any medical diagnosis, but we fully too expect them to be in for a truly heroic battle since they won’t relinquish their monopoly eagerly.

clapback or twitstorm

Not to minimise what’s genuinely really awful and tone-deaf things that are hurtful and reinforce negative stereotypes and worthy of outrage, these twenty-nine stages of an unfolding tweetstorm (via Waxy) by Tom Phillips is really a fine and biting piece of satire that perfectly captures the vicious and lurid landscape we’re capable of creating if we’re not careful. Of course social media is heavily tilted towards manufacturing such tantrums but it’s important to appreciate that its isn’t only Trump (who jumps on this bandwagon at stage twenty-one) or other polemists who are conducted into a fugue state and any one of us can be easily baited. Rehashing—hook, line and sinker—eventually passes over as the next paroxysm displaces it but surely not without causing damage that’s more enduring and deleterious than the aforementioned slight.  Do check out the whole unravelling on BuzzFeed at the link above.

duck and cover

Despite the status accorded them as nostalgic, pervasive cultural anchors, the fallout shelter it seems has been magnified by the popular imagination and just over one percent of US households (as opposed to civil and governmental constructions) in the early 1960s had such emergency accommodations.
Paleofuture presents a rather interesting survey that polled people’s attitudes at the height of the Cold War, speaking to collected fears and wafts of the toxic masculinity and the paternalistic patriotism that not a statistically insignificant amount of respondents invoked as reasons to not construct a bunker or otherwise prepare for a nuclear disaster. Contrary arguments included what the neighbours might think of their architectural folly, that only a coward would try to hide from an atomic blast or perhaps most disturbingly that to do so would somehow contravene the will of God and Country, undermining faith in the nation and that it was not within man’s power to destroy himself or the world. The majority took a more philosophic tact, questioning the ability to withstand an attack or whether they would want to be heir to the aftermath.  Imagine there was a time when only the dissolute polluters and climate-change deniers needed to be disabused and the preppers weren’t playing the long game.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

we don’t need no stinking patches

The fallout and negative public reception towards the National Reconnaissance Office’s choosing a world devouring octopus (which is a trope all on its own) as a mission patch for its launch and delivery of a classified payload into orbit back in 2013 was exemplary of the sort of obliviousness that dominates that culture and work environment and nearly prompted the White House to demand oversight and creative input on logos and slogans for all future missions.
Several other tone deaf, in-jokes have followed, however, and there’s no push for improving image and relations, of course, and it’s probably too high of a demand to expect anything coming from the NRO or any intelligence service to not be sinister. Though I cannot personally vouch for the authenticity—and wonder what might possess to label something so covert with a scary and inscrutable that only invites speculation escapes me—it would seem that the embargo against Latin mottos (the agency’s own is simply Supra et Ultra—Above and Beyond) might be at least a little premature with this emblem gracing the NRO’s latest launch on a Delta 4 rocket. The watch-word of the Florentine knight slaying the dragon is “evil will never prevail.”

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

the picture of dorian gray

Despite being available for the past year and half and having genuine educational merits aside from the tout that propelled it popularity, I found myself enthralled with the idea of finding my own digital Doppelgänger, having not been one of those privileged museum-goers to be instantly paired with their portrait gallery twin-strangers, but felt quite inept when I wasn’t able to find the feature as advertised.
Seeing the fun echoed, I wondered at my apparent technical difficulties until I learned that the selfie-comparison was only available in (most) of the United States, due to potential concerns over privacy and the ability to steal one’s digital soul via a willing relinquishing. By hook or by crook, a VPN (virtual private network) is needed for now to access the feature and to  convince the app-emporium otherwise. While I believe that the company behind the application does not have nefarious intentions, I am also grateful that I live in a jurisdiction that will fault on protecting us from ourselves, even if all the cool kids are doing it.